Tornado dominates Monday commissioner work session

Photo submitted to Times Observer This piece of corrugated metal that appears to have a portion the Carter Lumber logo emblazoned upon it was discovered near the bike-hike trail in North Warren. The Warren County Commissioners Monday work session focused on the storm’s far-reaching effects and what was learned to be even better prepared if it ever happens again.

Last week’s tornado was a focus of the discussion at Monday’s Warren County Commissioners work session.

Public Safety Director Ken McCorrison said that the tornado knocked down the county’s radio towers in Scandia.

“It is laying on the ground” in the middle of a pasture, McCorrison said, explaining that discussions are underway “to get our equipment up on the Commonwealth’s tower so we can resume normal communications.”

McCorrison said there would be some cost associated with that effort.

The agreement may be ready for approval in time for Wednesday’s commissioner’s meeting.

McCorrison said the current situation is “not optimal” for the departments in that area. “We need to get something back up there so they’re safe.”

Kafferlin described the situation as an “emergency” and said that “they can talk to each other but can’t really talk to dispatch very well.”

McCorrison cited the state’s help in this issue.

“Before I even asked them,” he said, “they were working their angles trying to find me another tower.”

He told the commissioners that one of the vehicles in the hazardous materials building at the county warehouse was hit and they are getting quotes to have it repaired. He noted that Youngsville VFD has allowed the county to store some of that equipment in their building “until we can come up with a plan there.”

McCorrison and Commissioner Ben Kafferlin expressed a desire to thank the organizations involved in the response to the storm.

“(There are a) lot of organizations we need to thank,” Kafferlin said, “A lot of agencies really stepped up and helped us out.”

McCorrison said an after-action review will be conducted with the involved responders to “discuss what we could have done different, what we could have done better, what we did well.”

The county’s tornado sirens were tested just weeks before last week’s tornado and McCorrison said that four did not work at the time of the test but that two were fixed between then and the storm leaving only two that “failed to activate.”

He said the one in the city – on the top of the Flat Iron building – dates to the World War II-era and does not turn. He said he would be taking the question of a replacement to that siren to the next LEPC – Local Emergency Planning Committee – meeting.

Kafferlin said that State legislators Kathy Rapp and Scott Hutchinson as well as Congressman Glenn Thompson called the day after the storm and said “that they’re (there) to help.”

County Veterans Affairs Director Ed Burris said that any veteran who had their home damaged in the storm should call him to see if they might be eligible for state grant funding for repairs.

Burris said a letter would be needed from 911 stating that the damage is related to the tornado and said “the state is the one that makes a determination” on funding.

He said documentations includes financials for the individual to determine eligibility.

“A lot of it depends on how much damage,” Burris said.